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One Lawmaker’s Supreme Court Gloom Is Another’s ACA Joy

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, received the gavel from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on the first day of the 113th Congress. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)
Pelosi and Boehner didn’t make news at news conferences post-Supreme Court ruling upholding Affordable Care Act subsidies. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Thursday’s weekly leadership news conferences, coming in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling to uphold subsidies in the Affordable Care Act, were studies in contrast: One one side was a somber John A. Boehner, vowing to keep fighting, on the other, an ecstatic Nancy Pelosi, celebrating the affirmation of her signature legislative achievement.

Pelosi was one of the architects of the 2010 health care law during her tenure as speaker, and the California Democrat said she was “jubilant” over the high court’s decision.

“It’s so appropriate,” she said, “going into the week leading up to the Fourth of July. … A healthier life, the liberty to pursue your happiness without being job-locked or policy-locked because of a pre-existing condition.”

Pelosi Not Worried About Obamacare Repeal

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Boehner said the court’s verdict didn’t change the facts about Obamacare.

“The problem … is still fundamentally the same,” the Ohio Republican said. “The law is broken. It’s raising costs for American families, raising costs for small businesses and it’s just fundamentally broken. And we’re going to continue our efforts to do everything we can to put America back in charge of our health care, not the federal government.”

Pelosi said she wasn’t worried about future Republican attacks, which President Barack Obama would simply veto if they ever came to his desk: “They’ll keep trying, and we’ll keep fighting.”

Boehner made it clear House Republicans wouldn’t stop trying to dismantle the health care law in increments — just this week the chamber voted to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the Medicare cost-cutting entity created by the Affordable Care Act.

But he wasn’t ready to tip his hand as to what next, more ambitious steps House Republicans might take, whether it’s the reconciliation process to repeal the health care law wholesale or the introduction of an official replacement bill.

Boehner: ‘No Decision’ to Repeal Obamacare with Reconciliation

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He emphasized Republicans on both sides of the Capitol were fully ready to move ahead with a plan had the court ruled in their party’s favor Thursday, though lawmakers are secretly breathing sighs of relief over not being placed in a situation where they need to build a health care system essentially from scratch — and build consensus for that plan.

“We were certainly prepared,” said Boehner, who added he was “proud of the work that was done on a bicameral basis and … by the leaders of the House and Senate that worked to bring all these parties together to have a unified response. Now it’s not necessary.”

They were so busy getting prepared, according to Boehner, that the lawmakers leading the House GOP task force on an Obamacare alternative didn’t have time to plan for anything past a King v. Burwell response.

Boehner said he didn’t know what came next in the party’s campaign against the law, emphasizing that “there’s been no decision on how to proceed.”

How about committing to putting a Republican health care bill on the floor by the end of the 114th Congress?

“I don’t know,” Boehner said. “We’ll see.”

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